Hmmmm...how to get all this great stuff back to the States. Will and the children have gone to Claire´s (our host-friend) 6th birthday party at her Spanish speaking school and I´m attempting to pack up all of our wonderful finds. It occurred to me that we haven´t explained much about Fair Trade and the shop.
Our friends, Chris and Trish, are with the Episcopal Church here in Ecuador. Not only have they been wonderful hosts (allowing us to use their apartment as home base, feeding us, sharing their washing machine...), they have graciously facilitated artisan connections as though it is their full-time job. They know folks all over Quito and Ecuador who know artisans in need of a US outlet for their goods. Most of our travels have been to go meet with people and see their wares. Because of their relationships we are able to pursue trading in a fair, just sort of way. Its a lot harder than we even thought!!!
We have met with a group of disabled folks who do all sorts of weaving (baskets, hats, bags, belts), some Columbian refugees who are making jewelry out of Tagua nuts, a few women who weave the most exquisite bags called Chigras (they are more art than bag), villagers way up in the green mountains an hour or more by dirt road, a family who works with fired clay, women who do unbelievable embroidery and crochet, a man and his family who weave bags on their looms in their ¨dining room¨...just to name a few. Without exception people have been friendly, kind, generous and a joy to meet. We have had the unusual opportunity to eat in people´s homes more than a couple of times and have had to decline invitations because of time.
One story to illustrate the kind of treatment we have received. Saturday, one the Episcopal priests who works several hours south and spends 2 weekends a month with his family in Otovalo invited us to his home. It was about a 15 minute walk out of town to a small building that his family (wife and 4 children), his brother´s family and his father and mother share. It is also an instument workshop, a music school and a bar. They fed us generously while the 2 brothers played all sorts of traditional music for us. Our children enjoyed pulling water from the well, watching the parrots in the trees, walking through their garden plot and kicking the soccer ball with their children. What a rich experience with lots of laughing while trying to communicate mostly with our hands and minimmal spanish words. Definately a memory to cherish!
Our hope is that these budding relationships will allow us to begin to do business in ways that are genuinely fair, just and helpful to everyone. We have bought LOTS of samples and some things in bulk to put out immediately. Many many seeds are germinating and we´ll wait to see how this all grows. Lots and lots to think about!